By Jessica DeLuise, Founder of Eat Your Way To Wellness
What are organic foods? Organic foods are grown or raised without pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified products (GMO), or radiation. These chemicals and toxins have been found to cause health concerns such as brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormonal imbalance and disruption, and skin, eye, and lung irritation.
In order to label their produce as organic, farmers must adhere to specific guidelines to “convert” their farms to organic. The conversion process is put in place in order to properly purify the land and soil so the produce can truly be 100% be organic and chemical free. The process usually takes up to THREE YEARS! In general, organic farms are usually smaller than conventional farms. Farmers do not receive any government funding, unlike conventional farms. These factors which contribute to the prices of organic produce generally begin higher than conventional produce.
Organic farming is also more labor-intensive, requiring more deliberate attention to weeds and pests without the help of pesticides and soil additives. However, there is no definitive data that suggests organic produce contains more nutrients than conventionally grown produce. Due to the climate, soil type, weather or any other number of variables, the studies are very hard to control and conduct. On the other hand, phytonutrients (plant nutrients) are known to be created in excess when plants are placed under stress. Meaning that, fighting surrounding weeds for nutrients, having a bug bite a leaf, or sun exposure, can cause a plant to increase production of phytonutrients. These nutrients, subsequently, are VERY healthy for us when we eat them. So, it could be deduced that organic produce may have a slightly higher nutrient content.
Now, don’t be discouraged if you have never purchased organic produce or your can’t afford to buy everything organic! Although the risk of pesticides or toxins substances is present, DON’T STOP EATING YOUR FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. Incorporating these foods can be extremely beneficial for your health. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has dedicated its mission to investigating the chemicals on and in produce. After surveying both domestic and imported crops, EWG found that 64% of produce contained at least one pesticide.
Now, every year, the EWG compiles a list of the most and least toxin laden produce called the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. Even if you don’t have access to all organic products, when you plan to buy foods that have been added to the Dirty Dozen list, it is important to buy the organic variety, as they can be the most dangerous to our health. In contrast, the Clean Fifteen possess the least amount of health risks in comparison to those analyzed.
In my opinion, buying organic is best whenever possible. The more we choose organic products, the more farmers will be motivated to convert to organic production. Plus, it’s one of the only ways to ensure you and your family are eating chemical-free foods without toxin-related adverse side effects. But, if you can’t always do this, be sure to reference your Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. And, as always, don’t forget to Eat Your Way to Wellness!